Mitcham police station 'too small' and isolated to remain open all night
Mitcham police station is “too small” and not near enough pubs and bars to warrant being kept open to the public for 24 hours, it was explained at a packed meeting to discuss wide-ranging cuts to the service.
Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing, Stephen Greenhalgh, faced Merton residents for the first and only time last night to explain why the Metropolitan police was proposing to slash £500m from its budget over the next three years.
Flanked by assistant commissioner Simon Byrne at Merton Civic Centre, Mr Greenhalgh insisted the public wanted to keep “bobbies on the beat, not police stations.”
He said: “We have got to recognise that the public are not choosing to report crime at police stations.
"Mitcham is below the London average, while Wimbledon has got more footfall than Mitcham.”
Merton’s borough commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, added: “It is a question of size.
"Wimbledon is double the size of Mitcham and the Met doesn’t have the money to build a super-nick in Mitcham.
“[Wimbledon] is very strategically placed for transport hubs. It has the bus, tram, railway and tube, it is a big retail centre and has a big nighttime economy and the violence that comes with that.
“Meanwhile the antisocial behaviour is spread around Mitcham. It needs a different type of police response and having it open 24 hours will not help that.”
It was also revealed London will lose one-third of police community support officers (PCSO) in a radical shakeup of safer neighbourhood teams (SNTs), which would leave each of Merton’s 20 wards with a minimum of one police constable, and one PCSO.
SNTs were the brainchild of former mayor Ken Livingstone and gave every ward a minimum of one sergeant, two PCs and three PCSOs.
Det Ch Supt Williams said he would meet Asst Commr Byrne on March 6 to make further proposals on how Merton would deal with the cuts, which would include disposing of five out of 9 SNT bases – with the teams being relocated to either Wimbledon or Mitcham police stations.
Councillor Richard Williams, who represents Pollards Hill in Mitcham, said the Met police owed him an apology after he and fellow ward councillor Martin Whelton said SNT sergeants would be lost after Pollards Hill was effectively merged with neighbouring Longthornton ward.
He said: “The then assistant commissioner responded to our concerns with a live interview in which he accused us of scaremongering and he insisted SNTs would not lose sergeants.
“Having a sergeant who has got experience with a team that understand the area is vital for gaining and keeping the trust of community. This plan will only set us back.”